Tuesday, December 6, 2011
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For a listing of our current deposit and loan rates, click here.
ZashPay Is Here!
Let's start with a quick exercise here. You'll need your wallet. I'll wait while you grab it.
Back already? Okay, now open it up. No, not the slots that hold all the plastic you carry. For this exercise, you'll have to stretch open the long slot along the wallet's edge. The one that's usually stuffed with receipts.
Yes, that's the one. Now look inside. Do you see much green there?
Think back a couple of years. Do you carry more cash or less than you once did?
There aren't too many people that have more green stuff than charge slips in their wallet anymore. The availability of credit cards in the 1960s brought visions of a cashless society, where currency was electronic rather than physical.
That time may be here.
GCF Bank now offers a new feature that allows you to move money directly from your checking account to anyone with a valid email address or mobile phone number. Without writing a check. Without paying for postage. Without snail mail delays.
Your son waits until two days before Christmas to tell you he doesn't have the cash to get home for the holiday? No problem!
You're enjoying a night out with friends and find yourself a bit short to pay your share of the tab? No problem!
Chipping in for a gift for mom and forgot to mail a check? No problem!
Not always home to pay the neighbor's kid after he mows your lawn? No problem!
But you must be registered for Web Pay as well as Online Banker to see the Bill Pay tab. If you're not, you'll first have to enroll in both services before you can use ZashPay.
Once inside the Web Pay module, you'll notice a new Pay People tab in the top menu bar, nestled between Manage My Bills and My Accounts. Click it, enter the requested information and you're done.
If the person you're sending money to is already registered with ZashPay, they'll receive notification that you've sent them a payment. They claim it and the money will be deposited directly into their account by the next business day.
New recipients will receive instructions on how to retrieve the cash you've sent them. A small deposit and withdrawal will be made to their account. They'll have to confirm the amount to assure all information is accurate before they can claim the cash. This won't take any longer than three days.
Information for anyone you send money to is stored in the ZashPay system, so there will be no delay the next time you need to pay that same person.
Take a look at the screens you'll encounter to see just how easy it is to send or receive money using ZashPay. Visit our online demo.
For a deeper look into how electronic payments are transforming monetary transactions, read our article titled "Payments-On-The-Go" which appeared in the September 20, 2011 issue of this newsletter. Find it online.
It all began with the Second Continental Congress in 1775. It now operates as an independent agency of the United States government, one of the few explicitly authorized by the U.S. Constitution.
It functioned as a cabinet-level government department until its workers went on strike in 1970. President Nixon abolished the Department and declared it a Service, operating as a corporation. Today, it is the second largest civilian employer in the United States with 574,000 workers.
Have you guessed what I'm talking about yet?
It's the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). And it may not hold that employer ranking for much longer.
Benjamin Franklin, at 31 years young, was the first Postmaster General. He organized service of the informal mail delivery service in place before the Department was established. He surveyed offices from Maine to Virginia and laid out shorter routes to follow, cutting delivery time in half.
Regular mail service between Philadelphia and New York was established. Service grew, soon it operated from Maine to Florida.
First by foot or horseback, later stagecoach, steamboat, railroad, automobile and airplane, the route chosen for postal service was the most direct between key geographic points. It was only natural that our nation's highway system would evolve along the routes taken to deliver the mail.
Savvy entrepreneurs would petition for a post office near their operations so that the government would build the roads necessary for access.
Revenue began dropping in 1991, taking sharp dives since 2000. Not much of a surprise to anyone with the advent of email and text messaging.
Even with its official monopoly on mail delivery services in our country, it still competes for package delivery services like UPS and FedEx.
The USPS has not received taxpayer funding since the early 1980s except for subsidies for costs related to the disabled and overseas voters. All revenue comes from postage and sales of related material.
Yet they're legally obligated to serve all Americans at a uniform price and quality, regardless of geography.
Government regulations restrict the service's ability to operate as a true business. They don't have the authority to determine the frequency of deliveries, can't develop new products or price existing ones without approval.
The government dictates their healthcare and retirement costs.
How bad is their bottom line? The USPS ended fiscal year 2011 with $5 billion loss.
The price of a first-class stamp will rise to 45 centers beginning January 22, 2012. The Postal Service has plans to close 3,700 post offices across the country. It's also looking to close more than half of their mail processing facilities.
No longer will mail arrive the next day, even when sending something to a neighboring town. If you still pay bills by writing a check and sending through the mail, you'll have to add a couple of extra days for delivery.
The USPS needs to reduce costs by $20 billion by 2015 merely to satisfy Congress' pension funding demands.
Any changes the service makes now will merely provide some temporary relief, it will take major overhaul to become profitable.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opposed the creation of a common European currency which came to be known as the Euro. In addition to her opinion that such a currency would threaten the sovereignty of member countries, she objected on practical grounds as well: The more frivolous EU members would overspend and accumulate debt that ultimately would obligate the more austere countries to bail them out - or sink as well.
As has often been the case, the Iron Lady was prophetic. The Euro is on the verge of collapse as the free spending Italians and Greeks have very nearly spent the continent into bankruptcy. None of the EU countries should be described with the adjective "austere." However, some are less frivolous than others. It is now up to Germany, with help from France and Great Britain, to bolster enough financial strength to save Italy (the EU's fourth largest economy) and hence the Euro from collapse. Some have referred to the next week as the "make or break point" in whether or not the Euro will survive.
In this context, and just 18 days into its reign, the new Italian Government has been forced to make some very tough decisions. And at the very least, the only way Italy has any chance of avoiding collapse is by implementing extremely harsh austerity measures. But harsh is a relative term. In reality, the Italian pension system has been providing beneficiaries ludicrous benefits in no relation to their contributions. Early retirement ages couples with exorbitant benefits have nearly bankrupted the country. One Italian finance minister stated simply, "We can't afford it."
The dilemma is simple: It is very heartwarming to dole out generous benefits to various citizen recipients. It is downright terrifying when those benefits reach a point that they exceed the ability of the active economy (those still producing) to pay. What follows is typically collapse.
And the path to collapse is not linear. Typically, modern governments enjoy VERY low borrowing rates because it is widely assumed that such countries would have SOMEONE come to their aid. Such sentiment has far-reaching effects, not the least of which could render a former NJ Governor to a prison cell. Yet, the private capital is fleeing Europe (losing faith), causing a disastrous rise in borrowing rates. It may very well be too late for the Germans or anyone else to be able to stop the outbound flow of capital - in which case the Euro is doomed.
In a widely viewed television interview, Italian Labor Minister Elsa Fornero broke down into tears as she tried to explain to her fellow countrymen that the austerity measures were absolutely necessary to avoid "collective impoverishment." Collective impoverishment should be thought of as the last chapter of socialism, followed by chaos and then dictatorship. Hopefully, there is still time.
"Democracy will last until the public realizes that it can vote itself largesse from the public trough." - Alexis de Tocqueville
GCFlash is a weekly e-mail sent only to its listed customers and associates free of charge. GCFlash informs customers of special product offerings which may be of interest, current interest rates on both deposit and loan products, selected financial news and other financial tidbits. GCFlash is intended to supplement the more comprehensive information listed on the GCF Web site at http://www.gcfbank.com.
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